Redfin Redux

J Philip Faranda December 22, 2009

Now that Greg Nino and Bob Haywood have blogged recently about Redfin I thought I’d add my own 2 cents. Why not? I’m a Redfin Partner Agent. I blogged a earlier this year about the firm when I wrote Why Redfin Won’t be Redflop

I was contacted by Redfin’s area manager, Michael Daly, earlier this year around March. He found me through my Active Rain profile. It has translated into about 10 closed sales for the company thus far in 2009. I paid a 30% referral fee, which included a small commission rebate to the client in each transaction. We have another 4 deals under contract and about half a dozen serious buyers we are working with. 

Now, before I go on, let me ask you: would it kill you to have 10 sales referred to you in the next 6-8 months? No advertising, no bird-dogging, just an email telling you to contact Joe Buyer. Yeah, that would really suck. Another Active Rain horror story. 

I have met Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, twice. He’s a nice enough guy, certainly committed to the oft-heard “Transparency” mantra, which I believe they are serious about. Glenn is also clearly regretful of Redfin’s initial splash, which was arrogant and adversarial toward the industry model. This haunts the company more than anything else. It is their Original Sin. And you never screwed up in your first year of real estate. Right. But some of the things they are criticized for aren’t what they appear to be. Their anti-short sale stance is ill advised and bad publicity, but they didn’t complain when I sold one. They want to stick with prices above a certain number, but if you go below it they either waive or reduce their referral fee. Those BASTARDS

I dislike firms which are called alternative models in polite company, not because of their methodologies, but because their agents suck. Crummy agents crew up deals. Bad agents tend to gravitate toward alternative models because of guaranteed pay, their gimmicks, or both. What is different about Redfin is that their agents don’t suck. As a matter of fact, the people whom I have dealt with are pretty good. 

This isn’t to say that as a partner agent I drink Redfin Kool Aid in the morning. I don’t think everything they do is wonderful, and if I have an issue, I contact Michael Daly and we speak. Glenn Kelman’s door is opened if the need arose. One thing I’d like him to do is make the site a little warmer and fuzzier. He can be such a CEO sometimes. I’m in sales. You can’t deny the emotional part of the biz. 

But some things they do will improve the industry better if we stop half a second and learn. 

  • It takes guts to survey every client and publish the results. 
  • They do IDX and home searches better than anyone I have ever seen.
  • They track every single referral. No one gets lost, misplaced or forgotten. 
  • Bad agents get sacked. 
I’ve seen some lousy gimmicky firms. They’ve had their shtick but they never portended the changes coming to the industry. Redfin is, I believe, different, and not because I get referrals from them or because I believe they were smart to refer to me (well, a little). They will not re invent the industry any more than any other firm. But they will make a contribution of value, they will have staying power. They will outgrow their need for venture capital and be profitable organically because they are smart and open to ideas. 
Now- if you disagree, then I’ll lay down this challenge: if you have a Redfin horror story along the lines of some of the gimmick firms we’ve seen come and go, email me or post a comment. I don’t have one to tell after 9 months and 10+ deals, and that, in my view, is the true metric.  
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